The students of Briarwood Elementary have been using a church as their make-shift school for the last year. Today is no different except in one renovated office nearly two-dozen fourth graders are huddling together to answer questions about tornadoes. “What is a tornado?” asks the Red Cross leader to the group of eleven year olds. A hand pops up and answers, “A funnel shaped column of spinning air.”
They can answer every one of the severe weather questions. It is sad these fourth graders know these details so early in their life but not surprising considering what they’ve lived through. Their school was destroyed by a tornado last year on May 20th, 2013.
Now they are going through an American Red Cross led tornado preparedness class. They participate in tornado charades, tornado “Simon Says” and other interactive, physical activities to raise not only their awareness but their comfort level.
“I think we’re all a little hesitant when it comes to talking about the weather and so it’s been good for teachers and kids,” said Teresa Schroeder, Briarwood’s librarian who brought the program to the school. “For the teachers it helps them and they’ve all complimented and raved about it and the kids have a chance to talk, an opportunity to share things … and get a little bit of information and then just feel a little more secure about being ready.”
“One mother told me, she said her son was so excited and then another mother said that this was the best thing she had seen,” Ms. Schroeder told us about the parent’s feedback on the Red Cross program.
At each training children walk away with a preparedness bag of their own filled with items that be used in an emergency. Items such as a glow stick, a Red Cross whistle, blanket and tips to share with their families on tornado preparedness. Each was urged to keep adding to their kit, something we should all be doing.